- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 3, 2007

The aftermath of Georgetown’s most successful season in two decades continues to yield more uncertainty than stability.

Juniors Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert, who entered the NBA Draft but have not yet hired agents, have until June 18 to withdraw and return to school.

And more important to the program’s future, coach John Thompson III is still without a new contract.

Thompson, who has two years left on his current deal, is paid $456,000 a season — 11th among the Big East’s 16 coaches and half as much as any other coach who has won a league title, much less made a Final Four appearance.

“I’m working on it,” Georgetown president Jack DeGioia said quickly before exiting from further questioning after the team’s annual awards dinner Wednesday night — when a new contract was expected to be announced.

But time to work on it could be running out.

Asked whether it was safe to assume he would be back next season, Thompson responded with a somewhat shocking lack of certainty: “Next question.”

Thompson, 42, needed just three seasons to return the program to where it was under his Hall of Fame father. From the NIT to the Sweet 16 to the Final Four, Thompson’s teams have enjoyed a steady and steep arc of improvement each year.

The Hoyas finished 30-7 last season, finishing first in the Big East and winning the tournament championship for the first time since 1989 and reaching their first Final Four since 1985.

Last week, Thompson was named coach of the year by the National College Basketball Hall of Fame.

But Thompson is being stretched to his professional limit because of his thinned coaching staff. Assistants Kevin Broadus (now coach at Binghamton) and Sydney Johnson (at Princeton) left after the season and have not been replaced.

“Yeah, I’m trying to do the jobs of three people right now,” Thompson said. “I just wanted to make it through the April recruiting period [that just ended] before I even thought about filling those positions.”

Even short-staffed, Thompson didn’t disappoint during that period. He signed forward Nikita Mescheriakov (brother of former George Washington standout Yegor) and secured a verbal commitment from 6-foot-10 Baltimore star Henry Sims (Mount St. Joseph), a national top-50 recruit in the class of 2008.

When asked why he would be recruiting so hard if he didn’t plan on remaining, Thompson gave yet another unsettling answer: “I’m doing my job as long as I’m here.”

Even if Green and Hibbert remain in the draft — both are projected lottery picks — and sophomore reserve Octavious Spann follows through on his plans to transfer, Georgetown still will have plenty of talent next season. McDonald’s All-Americans Austin Freeman (DeMatha) and Chris Wright (St. John’s) highlight next season’s freshman class, followed by a 2008 class that likely will include Sims, Chris Braswell (DeMatha) and Jason Clark (Bishop O’Connell).

Given such a promising parade of recruits and the return of at least seven of the nine players in last season’s primary rotation, it appears Thompson has laid the groundwork for a consistently elite program.

How long he will stay as its coach remains unclear.

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